Student Finance – Northern Ireland.

Hey everyone, it is coming to that time in your university journey that you have to start thinking about your finances to support you throughout the academic year and beyond. Coming from Northern Ireland, my experience with student finance was slightly different but not that scary at all. 

Applying for your student finance well in advance before the closing date is so essential as sometimes, the application forms do not get approved straight away due to a small mistake or the incorrect information being given.

The first thing I did when applying to student finance was talk to someone who had already been through it. I spoke to my cousin who had been through it a couple of times and she was the one who told me to look online before I started. She also told me that it was easier if I applied for student finance online rather than through the document that was given to me at school. This was because if there was a mistake in the hard copy of the application it would take longer to send back and then have to post it away again once it was corrected. The student finance Northern Ireland website actually advises this as well.

As you probably already know, you need to be careful about what application form you download and so, there are a couple of things you need to check before you start to fill in the application form. Firstly make sure that you are applying for the correct academic year, that you chose the undergraduate or postgraduate form and if you are a full time or part time student. This information is essential to check before beginning the form.

The application form is quite long but as I said there is a lot of guidance on the website that you can download. I found these really helpful as the process can be quite overwhelming and some of the questions can be confusing. Just remember to keep checking over what you have done to minimise the chances of it being sent back again.

Also, when it comes to the part in the application that requires you to fill in household income, it might be useful to have your parents/guardians around you to ensure that you get the correct information as this will affect how much money you recieve. On the student finance NI website there is a guide that parents and guardians can read/download if they need any additional support or clarification about what information is needed.  

As I am in my second year of university, when I get my finance is different from my first year but they are usually around the same time. I get my first instalment of student finance in September (around the 15th/16th mark) just in time before I start classes (and freshers!). My second instalment usually drops right after Christmas time when school starts back again (mine came on the 6th of January 2020). My final instalment usually comes in after Easter just in time for the end of the academic year for me.

Like I said, the website is very useful and full of information if you need it but do not be afraid to give them a call for anything at all. I rang when I didn’t understand what I needed to do when applying for my second year student finance and the person on the phone was very calm and talked me through what I needed to do.

I hope that you found this useful and are excited to start your university journey, Lauren Fitzsimons.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

-Beverly Sills-

Why I chose Edge Hill

When I was looking at Universities, Edge Hill and other Universities up North didn’t really occur to me until one of my friends suggested it. From there onwards, I just researched into it, and fell in love with what the course was offering me, so it ended up being on my list.

Although Edge Hill was on my list, it wasn’t my first choice as I had my heart set on Brighton but, when I went to Edge Hill for an Open Day, my whole mindset changed immediately. Unfortunately during this period, it was tough due to personal circumstances, which meant only me and my mum went to visit Edge Hill. She is probably one of the reasons why I ended up choosing Edge Hill as my first choice, because once we walked round the campus and had been to my course talk, she said to me: ‘I’m happy with you being here’. That was the only time she had ever said that to me whilst visiting a University, so I think that was a factor in my decision too.

In comparison with other Universities, I felt that Edge Hill had a different presence. I don’t know whether its because Edge Hill is an Open Campus, or the fact that it’s not in a City: I just felt more ‘at home’ (a home away from home if you will). Edge Hill also cater to allergies really well as I found out whilst visiting during an Open Day. Because of my allergy to nuts, in other places I found it difficult, but here, they had dietary requirements sheet and labels on every single piece of food too. That in turn made me feel safer and happier to be there.

I don’t regret my decision at all to come to Edge Hill. Even though it’s 4 hours away from home, this is my ‘home away from home’ and will be for another year to come.

Ellis x

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Course Insight: Marketing Year One

As per my profile on the website, I study Marketing here at Edge Hill. Marketing has always been part of my life, from high school to college, and now University, so naturally I was always going to write a blog about the course. Right off the bat, a disclaimer that your experiences will differ from mine, timetables, module choices, and assignments change very often.

My degree is spaced over three years, though I plan to take a year out to do a sandwich placement, making it technically four. A sandwich placement is fancy phrasing for a year working in industry. This year I have studied six modules, as per the standard in the Business School in order to achieve your required credits.

These are modules I have studied:

A lot of people will be wondering how the lectures work, I know I wondered the same thing. The modules I’ve had last only one semester occurred in classroom settings with a seminar consolidating the contents of the lecture right after, this often sounds like it’d last a long time, but you often get a coffee or toilet break that sections it up nicely. My Digital Marketing and Business Start-Up lectures lasted an hour in a lecture hall, then seminars took place in a separate room, classroom style. Overall I really enjoyed this method of learning as it broke up information intake really nicely, it suits me a lot more than High School or College style. My timetable was spanned over three days, giving me Tuesdays and Fridays free!

An academic tip would be to sleep in on your days off, and then use them to do reading or pre-lecture prep’, it’s a good method of keeping on top of your studies without things feeling over baring.

My modules have all been a mix of different assignments, two having exams. Exams aren’t as stressful as any prior ones you’ll have sat, the seating arrangement is a lot more relaxed, you can leave when you’re done granted you’re in a specific timing and overall it felt like a much more comfortable process.

Overall, I really enjoy how my course’s first year has been structured. Of course, this layout will not apply for all and every degree offered by Edge Hill, but I consider this a useful resource for applicants worried about how things will be after their Fresher’s Week.

Alice

Staying Mentally Healthy!

Hey everyone! I hope you are all well during this time. As we go through this difficult period in the UK and all over the world, I want to share some advice that I have learnt over the years about staying mentally healthy at university and at home from university.

I know I may sound like a broken record at this stage but by biggest piece of advice for staying mentally healthy is to GO OUTSIDE! Having a separation from the place you feel stressed or overwhelmed is so important for your well-being.

My house-mates know that when I say I am going for a walk that it is code for “time for me time,” and I let them know when I will be back and keep my phone on me at all times. I find that when I am outside, I can try and forget about how I felt within the four walls of the house and let my mind relax. Honestly, try it next time you get stressed over an assignment and come back to it with a fresher mind.

Another piece of advice that I would give you is to TALK to someone. This could be anyone from your friends, family, personal tutor or even your dog. Just as long as you are communicating your thoughts and feelings to someone who will know how to help, give advice or provide some form of comfort.

Last year when I got overwhelmed I went to talk to someone at the Catalyst help-desk and they were able to set up an appointment with a member of the team who had a chat with me and was able to set me up with an online help-course. This really helped but mostly because I had the chance to talk to someone about my feelings at the time.

I know that university can get lonely at times especially when self-isolation and social distancing is a must at the minute. Edge Hill University really helped me last year when I was feeling overwhelmed and lonely and so, do not hesitate to reach out to them and ask for help because at the end of the day, that is all we need to do to get to the next step in being mentally healthy.

look here for more information. https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/location/catalyst/

I hope that this is useful for people who may be struggling around these times. Just know that Edge Hill always has the means to help you if you reach out and ask for help, I am really glad I did.

Thanks for reading, Lauren Fitzsimons.

“The more you talk about them, the more important they will feel. The more you listen to them, the more important you will make them feel.”

Roy T. Bennett

Study Spots Beyond Campus

As an Edge Hill student your study time, whether that’s writing an assignment, doing your reading, or organising your post lecture notes, doesn’t have to be confined to a spot on campus or where you’re living during term time and beyond in the academic year.

The Catalyst, the Red Bar, upstairs in the Hub, and so on are perfect options but it’s good to explore beyond the University and into the town of Ormskirk, a short bus ride, (Using the Edge Hill Link) or walk away.

First up, my personal favourite, Starbucks. Starbucks is a very basic answer, I’m well aware, but hear me out! The Ormskirk Starbucks’ furniture is beautifully arranged, giving customers plenty of space to relax with a drink, or sit closer to the counter with a higher table to do work. Doing some reading? Take a seat closer to the entrance on the comfy plush chairs. Writing an assignment against the clock or anything requiring your laptop? Further up by the counter is your ideal spot, but down by the entrance would still work. It’s a perfect spot to do your academic work, and the baristas are some of the best I’ve ever been served by, and I’ve been to a lot of Starbucks cafes.

Ormskirk Starbucks

Costa is another great option, the tables in the Ormskirk cafe are a lot more appropriate for laptop or notebook work, the whole seating arrangement brings on a much more serious atmosphere in a way, perfect for a deadline crunch rather than relaxed reading or getting ahead of assignments to be submitted later in the semester.

Starbucks and Costa are great options, but there are many more. Ormskirk is filled with locations to try to study at, or unwind afterwards. Shifting to independently run establishments, Love To Eat near the old clock in town is a lovely place to get something to eat or drink after a morning study session or even lecture. I’ve yet to try to do it but it’d also serve as a lovely study spot as well. Strong recommendation on their pancakes if you’re looking for something to eat!

Alice

Budgeting as a Student

Before coming to University, there’s a good chance you’ve heard students talking about how little money they have. No matter how generous your student loan can be, it can be easy to spend too much and be left with pennies. However, there are plenty of small changes you can make to stop yourself going into your overdraft. In this blog, I’m going to talk about how I’ve managed my money.

Treating Yourself

It can be tempting to splurge – and you should! University is stressful, and you should spend money to enjoy yourself. Usually, people would treat themselves to a takeaway, and although they’re nice, they’re expensive. At ALDI, you can buy pizzas for as cheap as 65p, and as expensive as £3. You can also buy curry sauce, rice, and sides for less than £5. With takeaway pizzas usually costing as cheap as £6, by doing this you’re saving more than £5, which can make a huge difference while still getting the takeaway experience. Side note: A majority of ALDI’s items are the cheapest in Ormskirk, so it’s more economical to do most/all your shopping there!

Going Out

Liverpool is a train ride away and can make for a nice night out. However, a cinema trip can cost £12 (£5 for a train ticket with railcard and £7 for the cinema ticket). Instead of spending £12 to see a film, why not take a five-minute walk to see a free film every Friday in our Arts Centre? The £12 you’re saving can go towards clothes or a food shop.

Getting a Job

Shops in Ormskirk are always hiring, but there are opportunities to earn money on campus, such as being a student representative. This can be beneficial if your student loan is low, although a job would be another factor to accommodate for in your work-life balance. Thankfully, there is support at University to help you manage your time, as well as helping you manage money.

Closing Words

Saving money doesn’t mean you have to cut out all the things you enjoy in your life. You just may need to splash out less frequently, and look for alternative, cheaper ways. I’ve never had any issues with money, and I’ve been able to enjoy myself (as have many of my friends, so hopefully these ideas will be effective for you.

Scholarships: Excellence Award

My Experience

Image result for edge hill scholarships

As a prospective student, I researched into the Scholarships available to students coming to Edge Hill. I came across the Excellence Scholarship Award. This stood out to me because anyone could apply for it, so I decided ‘why not?’, and I put an application in.

The application wasn’t hard. The questions were mainly to do with your commitment for your passion, and how you would benefit from the Scholarship, etc. I answered the questions honestly, showing that I had a key interest in scriptwriting. (I ended up submitting a few scripts too to help my application). After submitting my application, it took a while for an email to come through. Fast forward a month later, and I got an email that made me smile so much: I got the Scholarship!

Once I got that email through, I was ecstatic as I didn’t believe that I would receive the award. It made me think that what I’m doing at the moment, might actually get me in the Film/TV industry. When I eventually came to my senses, and read the email, it stated that there would be an evening to celebrate students getting the awards, and that I could invite two guests. I ended up inviting my parents because they were so proud of me. Also it was a nice way to see each other because I live four hours away from home.

The Award’s evening was amazing and it really reminded me of how committed and driven you have to be to get where you want to in life. And now whenever I have a ‘down moment’ (which I do a lot because I’m a bit of a perfectionist), I think back to that time of receiving the award, and why they gave it to me in the first place.

Ellis x

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Keeping Your Plates Spinning: Help @ Edge Hill University

During university, you will be spinning a number of different plates: studies, work, family, friends, money, to name a few. Now and again, one may look like it’s about to fall off. Or two. Maybe even three. You have to work harder to keep these plates from falling, but sometimes, no matter how hard you tried, it will fall off. What then? Do you risk the others from falling by trying to pick the other one up? Is it worth the risk of everything else falling?

In my first year, I managed to keep all my plates up. Some of them got a little shaky at times, but I have a great support system underneath me and they helped me to keep balanced. This year, a couple of my plates have fallen off. This is nobody’s fault. Sometimes life throws curveballs at us and they knock our plates off and we have no other choice but to deal with it. Although this year is harder than the last, I am more thankful than ever for choosing Edge Hill Univerity as they have provided me with more support than I could have wished for. Asking for help is really hard, but they made it so easy.

Edge Hill University has a vast range of support systems to help you.

The first person who helped me was one of my tutors, who had noticed that I needed someone. She sat with me for an hour and we talked basics of what was happening – she referred me to speak with a team member in the Catalyst. They spoke to me briefly and made an initial appointment with the wellbeing team, which was only a few days away. They gave me a few websites and apps to engage with for the time being. As a student, you are entitled to 6 fifty-minute counselling sessions, which can be daunting if you have never experienced it before – but they make the whole process very easy.

With the help of Edge Hill, I have managed to stay on top of my work, visit my family more and learned that it’s okay to let some plates slip. My tutor sends me weekly emails to check how things are and if I need anything. I know if things get too much, I can speak to someone almost immediately. It is incredibly comforting knowing that I am supported by the university.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment box below. Thank you for reading.

Amy

Beat the loneliness, Edge Hill style.

Living alone for the first time, or at least away from your parents and family can feel lonely, there’s no disputing that fact. However, you don’t have to give into that feeling of loneliness at Edge Hill, since there’s literally so much to do beyond your studies. 

In a prior blog I’ve spoken a lot about coffee, probably too much, so I’ll spare you from another piece about that. Though, getting a coffee either alone as a treat or with a friend who is also on campus in order to catch up is an option to combat that lonely feeling. 

Another aspect of campus I spoke about was the Red Bar, I have now been to the Red Bar and could easily classify myself as its number one fan. Amazing food and staff make it a great experience with friends or solo. The food is super cheap but super good, I was shocked at the quality. Pizzas, Nachos, Paninis, the list goes on and on in regard to what you can get there. If you’re visiting in the evening, there is also a selection of alcohol, though perhaps save that one for when you’re there with friends, solo drinking could make you feel more lonely. 

Side stepping from activities on campus, there’s an array of things you can do at Edge Hill that requires no spending. When feeling a tad down, I’ve taken my phone, found a podcast, and just wandered into Ormskirk. A slow walk to decompress, accompanied by audio that isn’t music can be extremely relaxing or a good method to decompress. If time isn’t on your side, kill two birds with one stone and do your weekly food shop at the same time. Morrisons is a lot more tolerable when accompanied by a good podcast of your choice. The Daily is a very good podcast to listen to, 30 minutes long usually about different topics. 

There are so many other ways to combat loneliness at Edge Hill that all my future blogs could approach each subject, but I think we’d all get bored of reading that. I could go on and on but in the interest of wrapping things up, my parting statement in this blog would be to find something that makes you happy beyond your studies, and tailor it to combat that loneliness, for me it’s my Video Game consoles, for you it could be something very different. 

Alice

Preparing for an Academic Assignment

The Catalyst, where the Ormskirk campus' library is located

Before University, you’ve probably never wrote an academic assignment. When I wrote essays in secondary school, I never had to reference the sources I used; but in University, you will need to so that you can prove you’re not using made-up facts or copying someone else’s work.

This blog will share my approach to academic writing, which should hopefully be useful when you start writing your assignments.

Referencing Systems

Different courses ask you to use different referencing systems; my course uses the Vancouver system. To help, Blackboard has a concise Vancouver referencing guide for all the different types of media we can reference. If you struggle to reference, there are teams, lecturers, and classes which can teach you referencing until you understand

 Websites can generate references based on the link or journal titles. However, they aren’t always reliable. Therefore, it’s encouraged to use these to get an idea of what a reference looks like, and build your confidence. 

But what will you need to reference? Anything from academic books, articles, to credible websites. The more recent the publication is, the better, especially for research. 

Finding Sources

Google Scholar is a great resource, but I find that the University’s online library is more useful. You can limit source by their type (journal, book, etc.) or publication year, and find key terms to quickly find appropriate resources. The online library allows access to resources you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access due to licensing/memberships to journals.

Most of the University’s sources have electronic copies available, so accessing them is instantaneous. However, some resources are not available online. Luckily, our Ormskirk campus’ library is open 24/7, and books can be checked out anytime. You can also reserve them online; even from another University Library (in Aintree or Manchester) to be delivered to another University library, which can be helpful if you study at home and live near those areas.

There are thousands of resources available at the University but if there’s a book that’d be very helpful but the University doesn’t have access to it, you can request that the University gets it in stock.

Closing Words

While referencing is difficult, the University supports us to develop the skills. In addition to this, we’re not limited to what we can cite. The University and internet includes so many resources to support our assignments.

-Tony